COP15 gets under way at Copenhagen’s Bella Centre today as thousands of negotiating teams and both official and unofficial NGO’s and activists converge on the Danish capital in what is the biggest ever United Nations conference to be held in Europe.
Some 14,000 delegates, 4,000 U.N. delegates and 5,000 journalists will be using the next two weeks to discuss climate change, ways to limit CO2 emissions and other environmental issues as organisers hope that COP15 moves towards a political agreement at the end of the conference.
It is not without some pride that the Bella Center’s Arne Bang Mikkelsen takes stock as Day 1 of the conference dawns.
“A fantastic event for the Bella Center and for Copenhagen. We have the chance to write history here. And quite a job to host some 18,000 people each day for many days in a row,” Bang Mikkelsen says.
With some 193 countries taking part in the Dec. 7 – 18 conference, Mikkelsen says that one of the major challenges has been a ‘24-hour, 12-day service with participants from so many countries with different cultures and religions’.
More of everything
Reporters from across the globe need services during the night “As do the many civil servants who are preparing papers for their politicians and which have to be ready the next morning. A major task,” Bang Mikkelsen says.
At the same time, the COP15 conference has adopted proportions that are greater than originally envisaged by the United Nations when it declared the conference several years ago.
Meeting rooms had to be extended to take more participants, more radio boxes for journalists were required and many more briefing rooms have been called for.
“I feel confident, however, in handing over the keys to the United Nations because I know that things are under control,” Bang Mikkelsen says.
As of today, the 77,000 m2 COP15 area at the Bella Center ceases to be on sovereign Danish territory and is officially United Nations territory.
Edited by Julian Isherwood